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Greenpeace say their icebreaker was threatened with shooting in Arctic

By The Siberian Times reporter
28 August 2013

FSB say activists posed threat to navigation safety. A row has erupted between the environmental group and the Russian authorities.

Russia has accused the group of sailing without a permit.  Picture: Will Rose, Greenpeace 

The Kara Sea drama came as protestors sought to highlight their concerns over the ecological threat to the pristine Arctic waters. 

'It was repeated several times in open conversation that they were threatening that if we didn't leave the Northern Sea Route that they would fire on our ship,' said Canadian Christy Ferguson,  on board the Arctic Sunrise which has sailed without a permit. 

But the FSB security service's coast guards said on Tuesday said the Dutch-registered icebreaker 'posed a threat to the navigation safety', reported Itar-Tass.

Greenpeace were targeting the Academik Lazarev research vessel, which had been doing research for the giant Rosneft energy company.

'On 26 August, the border guard ship Viktor Kingisepp from the detachment of border guard ships of the Russian FSB's border directorate for Murmansk Region detected a violation of existing international legislation by the Arctic Sunrise ship (Arctic Sunrise, Netherlands flag) in the Russian exclusive economic zone (Kara Sea, 70 km from Bely Island),' said a press release. 

'The vessel did not have a country flag in violation of article 92 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea dated 10 December 1982'.

The FSB public relations centre claimed that Greenpeace activists  manoeuvred in a dangerous manner on small floating craft near the Lazarev.

Greenpeace boat in Kara sea

A row has erupted between the environmental group and the Russian authorities over the Greenpeace protest over Arctic oil exploration. Picture: Will Rose, Greenpeace 

The icebreaker is now heading away from the scene.

'We're here on behalf of three and a half million people who want to expose the truth behind reckless Arctic oil drilling, and yet the Russian authorities have tried to block us at every turn. Our protest is entirely safe and peaceful, while oil exploration poses a huge threat to wildlife and the fragile Arctic environment,' said a Greenpeace statement. 

'The Russian coast guard is conducting a forced inspection of the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker after activists conducted a peaceful protest action against the drilling in a conservation area in the Arctic'.

Russia has accused the group of sailing without a permit.    

'When the application for sailing in the area of the Northern Sea Route by the Arctic Sunrise was filed, the applicant did not produce information about the width of the ice belt which served as a reason for the refusal to issue a permit for the ship's sailing in the area of the Northern Sea Route,' said a transport ministry spokesman. 

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